Rich Paxson

4.6 A little family upheaval: Just draw!
This module focuses on the new understanding of sin and forgiveness made possible by what Jesus has been doing in our midst.
Before we jump into that discussion, let’s think about the phrase used by children in rebellion against parental authority: “You’re not the boss of me!” That phrase often captures adult feelings as well. In the Discussion Forum of this unit, share your thoughts on these questions:

What is important about claiming to be the “boss” of yourself?
What are some of the pitfalls of clinging to the idea that who you are begins and ends with you?
Why might it be a relief to discover that who you are doesn’t start with you at all?
America’s consumer economy, which glorifies overwhelming product choice, continually projects the idea that ‘I am the boss of me.’ Consumerism pushes buyers to choose ‘the best’ product. Marketers showcase the latest and the greatest. Customers, including me, willingly suspend disbelief in their rush to purchase a never-to-be-bested model or version of a product.

Rather than ‘I really am the boss of me,’ the social other is the force that continually re-creates itself within me. ‘I am the boss of me’ is an illusion, a euphemism for the capacity to conform to social norms that say personal success can be known only through reference to those who are ‘other’ than me. ‘I am the boss of me’ learns it is the products that he or she acquires that make a healthier, more handsome, smarter ‘I am the boss of me.’

The reading for this section introduces the concept of “secondariness,” which reflects a new [to the reader] relationship between sin and forgiveness. Forgiveness comes first. Sin is “that which can be forgiven.” We are invited to relax into forgiveness “with gratitude.” Alison writes:

“ … we are held in being by something prior to us, something that is not at the same level as ourselves at all, not in rivalry with anything. This “secondariness” is not a form of diminishment, or being put down, but an accurate and objective sense of createdness, something which can in fact be relaxed into with gratitude.”

These ideas are so alien to ‘I am the boss of me’ that they seem to be coming from somewhere in outer space, which is the analogy Alison uses to get his point across. “I AM,” who has always held the ‘I am the boss of me’ planet in being, draws the globe into “I AM’s” forgiveness/sin force-field, causing the world’s axis to shift. At first, the shifted axis feels only new and alien, but eventually, the shifted axis engenders awareness that transcends the false, consumerism ideas that ‘I am the boss of me’ is so conditioned to desire.